Classical (or Pavlovian) conditioning is a process through which animals learn relationships between stimuli present in their environment. It is crucial to adaptive behavior and survival because it allows the prediction of rewarding, harmful, or neutral events (i.e., outcomes) on the basis of others that preceded them (i.e., cues). If the outcome has a biological meaning, the animal will exhibit overt anticipatory responses in the presence of the cue, which can be behavioral, cognitive, or emotional in nature. Classical conditioning can also lead to the development of inappropriate or prejudicial behaviors that are implicated in many psychological disorders, such as drug addictions, anxiety disorders, phobias, and relapse from therapy.

Historical Context

Ivan Petrovitch Pavlov (1849–1936) pioneered the scientific study of classical conditioning. Initially a physiologist of digestion ...

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